Wednesday, June 22, 2016

Ups and downs: Transgender mental health

It's been a month since I've made a posting. I was unable to write because of a major relapse; I've been fighting depression since last spring.  My previous posting was about returning home from a business trip to New York state.  I was a little nervous about returning home.  Let me explain why.

Just before going to New York, I had been approved for hormone replacement therapy; I was going to start taking estrogen in hopes of feminizing my body.  While my wife had told me she didn't want hormones in our home, I figured it would be okay.  It takes several moths of estrogen before significant effects take place; I just had to explain that to my wife, right?

Was I ever wrong about that. When I tried to explain things, she went crazy.  She became instantly angry and suddenly my explanation became irrelevant.  She told me she was going to take the kids on a vacation, and she wanted me to move out before she returned.  Not only did I not have a valid explanation, I no longer had any rights.  Suddenly, my wife was ready to tear me out of the family.

At first, I didn't know what to do.  I hadn't expected such response from my wife.  I returned home late to spend the night on the floor.

The next day was very difficult.  My wife gave me an earful as I prepared to go to work.  My initial plan was to simply keep the hormones in my office until the time was right.  I didn't know what I would do about housing or other matters.  On the way to work, a sister began texting me about possible disciplinary actions that the Church could take.  That was my tipping point.  I took the day off work and tried to make things right.  I gave the hormones to my wife as a peace offering.  I told her I would try things her way in order to save the family.  I took a large portion of my female wardrobe and donated it to a local thrift shop.

That was just the beginning of a very miserable week.  I later learned that I would also lose the services of a therapist that I had come to rely on.

The following week, I went to New York.  I was in a terrible state.  I spent three days somewhere stuck between two genders - the one I have but do not love, and the one I desperately want but cannot have.  I finally cracked mid-week and bought women's clothing while in New York.  I spent the last two days of the trip as a woman, and felt better about everything.

I came home from that trip late on the Friday of Memorial Day weekend.   I relapsed into a full depression, and spent the next three days unable to get out of bed.  Ironically, home was the one place where I had the least liberty to be myself.  I just couldn't take it.

On Monday, my wife finally told me I could either voluntarily return to the hospital to have my depression treated, or she would call 911.

I went willingly.  She dropped me off at the hospital, and then took the kids swimming at the local pool.  I was admitted to the acute inpatient program at the hospital's behavioral health unit that afternoon for three weeks treatment.  I came home late on May 20th.  I'm continuing treatment in a intensive outpatient program. I will probably miss 4-5 weeks of work.

So, there are a few important take-aways.  First, being transgender itself is not a mental illness.  However, transgender people do have a high rate of depression for a variety of reasons.  Being stuck in the wrong body has a lot to do with it.  You know something is very wrong, but transitioning to the right gender can be very difficult.  It is very common to feel stuck in a bad situation with no options.

Second, it's often the people we are closest to who are the most difficult.  In order for me to transition, my wife wants a divorce, which I think is understandable.  However, she has laid out a list of separation terms that are not very favorable.  She wants full custody of the kids, and only wants me to have limited visitation rights.  Any visits to the kids would require her supervision, and I would have to appear as a man.  She does not want me to interact with the kids as a female.  This one is hurtful.  I think it's best for the kids to know openly why Mom and Dad might be separating.

Finally, I decided while in the hospital that I would transition.  I don't know how things will work out, but this is something I need to do.  Being male is not something I can take for much longer.

1 comment:

  1. I divorced about 8 years ago over the same thing and I see my kids every weekend. They are now 18 and 16 and things are far better. They know about me but only my daughter has seen me dressed. Not an easy road I know!